Eyes on the Street: The Oak Street Bike Lane Is Now Protected

The Oak Street bike lane now has protective concrete planters. Photo: Mark Dreger/Twitter

At long last, the Oak Street bike lane has physical protection from motor traffic. Long-awaited concrete planters were completed last week.

“We’re thrilled that the final pieces are finally coming together to make the bike lanes on Oak and Fell achieve the high level of protection San Franciscans were originally promised and that we have advocated strongly for,” said SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Noah Budnick. “Protected bike lanes are one of the most powerful ways to make San Francisco safe and inviting for people of all ages to bike. This critical corridor will now be a safe, attractive route for people biking and local residents, and will make the roadway more predictable for people driving.”

Next up is Fell Street’s three-block counterpart, completing the link between the Panhandle and the Wiggle, the flattest central route between the eastern and western neighborhoods. Fell’s concrete planters and finishing touches are expected to be completed by the end of April.

The first step in the redesign was to create a curbside bike lanes with a painted buffer. In an October 2013 survey, many bike commuters who use the route — currently, roughly 1,800 a day — said those changes made them feel safer and more likely to bike on Fell and Oak. The new concrete planters should make the route even less stressful and send a stronger signal to drivers not to park in the bike lanes.

In related news, the SFMTA Board of Directors last week approved the new residential parking permit Area Q to provide some regulation for car parking in the neighborhood. The idea was developed during planning for the Fell and Oak bike lanes since they required the removal of about 100 parking spaces, with about half added back on nearby streets.

Check out more photos of the Oak bike lane at Hoodline.

  • Bruce

    It only took 3 years.

  • p_chazz

    The wheels of government grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.

  • Easy

    Slow clap. 😉

  • So much better than it used to be: quite wonderful.

  • I’m wondering if people who want to add a new curb out where there one of these protection planters is located will be able to force the City to remove the planter? That would be sacrificing the many for the benefit of the few. Is having private garage access a basic human right?

  • Mario Tanev

    I tried it, but it’s still mostly not protected. Especially at intersections, ideally it should have its own signal so that no merging is needed.

  • als

    I thought that “protected” would mean more than a 3″ high curb that a car can jump at any time. I don’t think much has been accomplished.

  • S. Bird

    It doesn’t look very well designed to me, but that’s no surprise; most of the bike ‘improvements’ in the city aren’t very helpful. Maybe it will work.

  • p_chazz

    Having private garage access is a property right protected by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

  • I don’t believe that’s true. Quite a few streets in the City, Mission Street for example, do not allow new curb cuts for garage entries.

  • iamjared

    Yea and it’s really cool until cars still use the bike lane as a parking spot. Except now you’re dodging between parked cars and planters….

  • While I think i was imagining something higher by the term “planter” being used, I think people are being a bit extreme talking about how cars could jump this.

    I mean sure, you’re not even safe inside most restaurants/nail salons from a determined driver, but the difference between sharrows, a painted division as we’ve seen on 8th/Folsom, etc. and this type of physical barrier to ordinary car traffic is tremendous.

    Sure something like the Cargo Way (planet-of-the-apes-bikeway) fence would provide more “protection”, you could even place spikes pointed at the drivers to add further menace, it’s also ugly as hell. (I also haven’t ridden it in several months so it’s questionable how much more of the fence has been ripped out by vehicles and scrap scavengers.) With that physical barrier protection comes a loss of visibility in both directions (car->bike and bike->car) which is generally a deterrent to safety.

    I’ll save my kvetching til I actually ride a bunch of times after all the cones are removed, vs guessing and imagining scenarios from Michael Bay movies.

  • p_chazz

    The City may grant an easement, but it cannot summarily take it away without giving the property owner “just compensation.”

  • robertnealan

    Unfortunately I’ve already seen multiple cars/taxis parking in-between the planters and the curb to pickup/dropoff passengers, forcing bikes to go all the way into Oak St as it’s just barely wide enough to fit an average sized car.

    Partially protected bike lanes are a start, but this really isn’t improving the situation until they make them fully protected and add separate bike stoplights to avoid collisions with cars taking right turns at Divis, etc.

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